Friday musings are inherently Friday. It’s end-of-the-work-week kind of stuff, so let’s dig in. Shall we?
▪ The Kansas City Chiefs open the season Sunday at Houston. Not a gimme, for sure. And even though hope is high with the Chiefs, there are still concerns. Concerns sure get in the way of optimism, don’t they? Every team has them.
1. Is Jeremy Maclin really the kind of difference-maker people assume he’ll be at wide receiver? He’s certainly an upgrade; remember the Chiefs’ wide receivers had the same number of touchdown catches last season as I did. Zero. And KC has play-makers like Jamaal Charles, Travis Kelce and De’Anthony Thomas to make up for any wide receiver deficiencies. Still, Maclin has to produce big.
2. Is Alex Smith good enough to win a Super Bowl? He’s definitely smart enough, but Einstein never won a ring. Smith is limited, but the Chiefs understand that and don’t put him in harm’s way. It’d be nice to see a downfield pass occasionally, and Maclin isn’t in Kansas City to catch dump-off throws.
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3. The defense? It’s good. If Dontari Poe is healthy, it can be better than good. If Eric Berry is like his old self, it can be better than better than good. If . . . OK, you get it. The Chiefs have a good defense that might be really good.
All in all, I like the Chiefs to win the AFC West. Not that I’m the only guy picking them to do so. But a lot of the forecasters seem to be unable to pick against Denver as long as Peyton Manning is the Broncos’ QB. Well, remember how the now 39-year-old Manning finished last season. It wasn’t easy to watch. There’s not a weak team in the AFC West – no, not even Oakland – and the Chiefs have a difficult schedule against the AFC North and NFC North.
Sunday’s game at Houston, another team with grand designs, is huge. After that, the Chiefs come home to play Denver and go to Green Bay. Last season’s 0-2 start proved too much to recover from as the Chiefs finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. My calculations indicate 0-3 would be even harder.
I think the Chiefs win two of those games. I think they go on to finish 11-5. I do not think Kansas City wins the Super Bowl, but it’s not out of the realm. Enjoy the season.
▪ My St. Louis Cardinals have been stinkin’ up the joint lately. After five smooth months, it was to be expected? And as long as the Cardinals hold on to win the National League Central and finish with the best record in the league, I’m OK with them scuffling now. Just don’t scuffle in October. Maybe they’re getting this bad stretch out of their systems.
▪ I picked Peyton Manning as my fantasy quarterback. I couldn’t resist, even though I’m not sure he’ll be able to stand up by Week 2. So I took the almost-as-old Philip Rivers as my back-up. I have a good chance of running into both guys when I pick out a nursing home soon, but we’ll see what happens.
▪ When I work from home, I write for a while and then I stop for a minute or two to pet and talk to our dog. Then I get back to writing, then more petting and chatting. I’ve noticed it’s helping my sanity.
▪ I’ll be in Lawrence on Saturday for the Memphis-Kansas game at Memorial Stadium. I’m at least curious about KU after its comeback loss – is there such a thing? – against South Dakota State last week. I would suspect a rather one-sided defeat Saturday, though.
▪ Here’s the thing about the Kansas State marching band’s halftime performance last week. If there was no malice, as the band director has said numerous times, then the formation got out of whack. The result was embarrassing and worse if there was intent, which I do not believe there was. But to express disbelief that non-Kansas State people would be offended, dismayed, surprised, humored, irritated, etc., by the Star Trek-themed performance that included KU’s Jayhawk mascot is crazy. It did resemble a sex act. On a college football field. A week after K-State students interested in football tickets were asked to sign a sportsmanship pledge. K-State couldn’t have handled the aftermath any worse.
▪ Finally, I believe, K-State band director Frank Tracz has stopped talking. It’s about time. Nothing he said about this crazy was helpful.
▪ I’ve been hanging on Don Henley news for the past few weeks, awaiting the release of his new album, “Cass County,” in two weeks. this is a country-tinged record with guests like Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert and Trisha Yearwood. Oh, and Mick Jagger. Five of the 14 songs have been released to whet our appetites. Henley is my all-time favorite musician, hands down. So, as you can imagine, I’m antsy. Anyone up for a listening party? Not at my house.
▪ I was pulling for the New England Patriots on Thursday night and am glad they won against Pittsburgh. It takes some bravado to admit being a Pats fan nowadays. I think they’re the most hated franchise in professional sports, a distinction that once belonged to the New York Yankees. Pretty sure my St. Louis Cardinals would be in the Top 10 of that list now.
▪ My personal top 10 most hated, in no particular order: Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees, San Francisco 49ers (not so much now that Jim Harbaugh has moved on), Michigan Wolverines (more so now that Jim Harbaugh has arrived), Pittsburgh Pirates, Buffalo Bills (or wherever Rex Ryan is), Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds.
▪ The National League playoffs – which will include St. Louis, Pittsburgh, the Cubs, Los Angeles and the New York Mets – should be incredible. So much great pitching. So many good teams. Wow.
▪ Baseball is such a momentum games. It’s hard to know whether the recent poor play of the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals are anything to worry about. At least as long as those teams are holding on to leads in their respective divisions and in the race for the league’s best record. But I do know this: Both teams’ fan bases would feel much better if KC and St. Louis started playing better.
▪ Thanks for reading, everyone. Get out and enjoy this incredible weather.